On every contact list is the name of a man no one can ever get ahold of. Email him and the reply is automated — something to the effect that he’s not at his desk right now, return date undetermined. The kids wanted to go fishing; he’s in a float plane near Anchorage.
These are the men who don’t mind a little dirt under their nails. Their kids had Eagle Scout skills before they could walk. They know how to tie more knots than you have paisley ties; they cast for fresh fish, you Seamless for sushi. We all have an outdoorsman in our rolodex, and he probably destroyed something or another on his last adventure and is looking for a replacement under the tree. So use this guide to give him something for his next outdoor excursion, and maybe he’ll let you tag along this time.
Mad River Adventure Canoe
The River House Staple: There are performance canoes for whitewater, with spray skirts and GoPros and helmets. There are canoes for calm water, flimsy things dug out of garages once a year for visits to the lake house. This canoe doesn’t choose sides. It’s built with the comfort and stability of a Cadillac, the ability to maneuver class I-III rapids and the affordability and durability of high-density polyethylene construction. It fits two comfortably, with an optional third seat for a college buddy or your son, with built-in cup holders for their beer or juice box, respectively. Buy it for fishing with family, know it can handle whatever the river throws at you.
Barbour Sylkoil Ashby Jacket
Stylish Durability: It’s rare to have both form and function, to live in the sweet spot of style and durability. The Sykoil is Barbour’s classic Bedale jacket, redesigned with a slim tailor fit, corduroy collar, hidden zipper, snap-patch pockets and plaid-patterned lining. The waxed cotton exterior is durable enough for a day in the field, clean enough for a night on the town and lasts a lifetime. Just promise you won’t wash it.
J.W. Hulme Shell Pouch and Belt Set
Shoot from the Hip: It’s a man purse. It’s a satchel. No: it’s a brown leather shotgun shell pouch, the manliest accessory known to man. A double shell keeper secures live shells at your hip, while spent shells hang in an interior pocket with a bottom brass zipper to let you dump them easily into the trash after a hunt, instead of all over the field. Hand buffed, adjustable and monogrammed, it’s guaranteed to sit comfortably at your side on every hunt, for life. Gun and stubble sold separately.
SOG Bladelight Fillet Knife
Light at the End of the Tunnel: Dull knives will cut through your fingers faster than they’ll cut through fish, especially in the fading evening light. Trade in your old butter knife for a fillet knife from the award-winning BladeLight series, which trades in style points for an ergonomic, half-pound design, with LED lights on either side of the 7.5-inch stainless steel blade. The blade sharpens easily, and the lights, packing a two-hour charge, allow you to cut safely in low-light conditions, helping you to fish early in the morning and late at night.
REI Kingdom 8 Tent
The Campground Palace: This isn’t a hiking tent. Hell, at over 22 pounds, this is barely a tent — more like a fortress. Set it up next to your coupe and you might mistake it for a Winnebago. The tent offers bug and rain protection for an area of over 12 x 8 feet with a peak height of 6 feet, 5 inches. So much interior space means no amount of rain or wind can ruin the campout, while an optional divider splits the fortress into two rooms as needed, for a little more nighttime privacy, complete with separate entrances. If you’re still not satisfied, Connect Tech attachments (sold separately) let you add more living space or storage.
Snow peak Field Kitchen table
The Chef’s Surface: Experiencing the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to dine on a can of beans and warm beer. Give an outdoor chef a small version of their kitchen with a portable bamboo tabletop set atop collapsable aluminum legs, all of which fits smoothly into an over-the-shoulder carrying case. Two levels of wire mesh drawers keep food items off the dirt while you chop up the night’s feast on a 22 x 19 inch stable wood surface.
The Karl-Heinz Henley
Campfire Style: The iconic Karl-Heinz shirt has been on the scene in Germany since 1923 but rarely makes its way stateside. This four-button henley is characterized by embroidered contrast-thread placket, mother-of-pearl buttons and a half-moon panel on the back. It can be worn as a thermal undergarment on hunting trips or fall hikes, but looks just at home as a stand-alone shirt around town.
Rancourt & Co Clymer 2.0
Upgrade Your Boat Shoes: In another intersection of durability and style, the classic Clymer ranger-moc style gets an upgrade. The shoe now features a durable work boot sole, unlined Chromexcel leather and vented eyelets for battling classic leather shoe foot sweat. From your top-down perspective, it’s a ranger-moc; from the forest floor’s perspective, it’s a work boot.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
The Sun Dial: Sun up at 6:28 a.m., sun down at 4:50 p.m. Low tide at 10:58 a.m. and 11:23 p.m., high tide at 4:43 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. These are the only numbers that matter to the wild. So for when there isn’t an overhead fluorescent and a wall-mounted thermostat, get something you can depend on. The new Heritage Ranger calls back to the Ranger from 1967, although it runs a bit larger at 41mm. In the wild, it stays powered through a self-winding movement, with a 38-hour power reserve, can dive to 500 feet without a problem and comes with lume-treated dials and hands for nighttime use. Around town, the watch eschews its industrial nature for a retro look, with a domed, matte black dial and crystal face, a satin-finished case earmarked by a winding crown with the TUDOR rose in relief, and the option of four straps (bund, leather, fabric and steel).
Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Lantern
A Month of Light: For after a miles-long hike in the pouring rain. For when your kids want to play cards in the tent after sundown. For non-worrisome sundown. The 30-day lantern is a lightweight-yet-durable addition to a car camper or backpack strap. While the lantern can be used for 720 consecutive hours on its lowest setting (29 lumens), medium- or high-intensity light cuts the three 1.4W LEDs down to a few days of use. For better flood lighting, remove the protective globe and hang it from inside your tent, or a tree, by the hook at the bottom. Good for a long weekend trip or a month lost in the wilderness.
Big Sky Rod Box
An Enormous Tackle Box: Nothing’s worse than spending the first hour of morning light detangling your lines before you even get in the boat. Or holding a funeral on the riverbank for your new and recently snapped Scott Radian fly fishing rod. For safely storing your entire family’s set of fishing poles, this fly rod carrier installs atop your truck to carry up to four fully rigged 9.5-foot rods and reels wherever the road can take them. Closed-cell foam inserts keep each rod secure and tangle free while in transit, and tough 18-gauge welded steel protects from cold and impact, all while a locking draw latch provides security while you run into the store for more live bait.
Nemo Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad
Four Inches of Comfort: The ultra-light hiker can keep his thin, 5-ounce, torso-length sleeping pad. This pad is built for comfort. Bright orange, over 6 feet long and 4 inches high with a raised baffle at the head for pillow support, your fellow campers will notice the pad right after they notice that you seem particularly chipper in the morning. And comfort doesn’t need a plug: inflate the pad with a built-in foot pump at its base.